Schrödinger’s Bond

I’m never going to get tired of looking at this photo…

Did Chávez have his “you didn’t build that” moment after the Amuay disaster when he said that, accident or no accident, “as some philosopher whose name I don’t remember said, The Show Must Go On“?

Both were gaffes, and the attacks each spawned are arguably unfair. But both seem to transcend questions of context by getting straight at the nub of what opponents find so irksome about each leader. For Chávez, what matters really is the show – the nuts and bolts of governing seem to bore him.

Chávez’s show-must-go-on gaffe was especially unfortunate coming days after the “Baptism of Crude” he gave his new “Petrorinocos” – which are pitched as bonds the state will use to catch-up on some of its humongous labor liabilities going back more than 20 years.

Unpaid labour liabilities (backpay and old-to-ancient but still outstanding severance benefits) amount, by some estimates, to a whopping $19 billion, and are a constant irritant in the state’s relationship with its workers, former workers and retirees. Not surprisingly, various schemes to deal with the debt surface around election time like so many mushrooms after a soaking spring rain, since you obviously need to motivate those folks to turn up and vote for you.

The Petrorinoco Bonds are the latest of these schemes: bonds that workers can either sell on right away for cash or keep as a savings vehicle.

Trouble is they exist in a weird state of suspended unreality, finely balanced between potentiality and existence. With no actual prospectus published, the closest thing we have to detail about them at this point comes from – I shit you not – extreme close-ups  of the mock-up Chávez held-up to be smeared with oil at the launch event:

Here are some of the things we still don’t know about Petrorinocos:

  • Which entity will issue them? Will it be the Republic? PDVSA? BCV? Fonden? Bandes? Someone else?
  • How many will be issued?
  • In what sequence?
  • To whom?
  • What will be the value of the coupon?
  • Will they have coupons?
  • When will they mature?

Basically, we don’t know anything about Petrorinocos at all, because Petrorinocos don’t actually exist at this point.

The thing Chávez held up to smear with oil wasn’t even a Petrorinoco, but an artist’s flight of imagination about what a Petrorinoco might one day look like.

What Chávez did in his little P.R. Stunt amounted to smashing a bottle of champagne onto the blueprints for a ship you haven’t built yet, and calling the ship “christened”.

The show must go on…

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  1. Mercury was Parsi. And “present-day Parsis descend from a group of Zoroastrians of Iran who immigrated to India during the 10th century AD” Hodivala, S. (1920), Studies in Parsi History, Bombay.

    So…not Iranian.

  2. Did anyone here see Queen in Ccs? Frampton? The Police? Saga? Van Halen? When Freddy came off the jet bridge at Maiquetia, fans and cameras where waiting. Someone gave him a beer which he drank.

  3. lo mas triste de esta vaina es que la gente se sigue comiendo el cuento – como si comerse el cable no fuese suficiente…

  4. Put this one next to the Tarjeta del Buen Vivir (or whatever its name was) next to the electoral flights of fancy, will-o-wisps and rainbow-farting unicorns El Comandante comes up with every time there’s an election.

  5. You kiddin’ me? This is freaking hilarious. It’s just another media stunt to buy consciences? Funny, the emperor spilling oil on the paper certificate and they all laughing and singing and what so not. Hehehe, these guys are masters at taking a non-existent accomplishment and making it into a grandious event that will positively affect the lives of millions!

  6. “The show must go on”

    Does anyone have the Spanish version of what Chavez actually said? I am curious if actually used the word “espectaculo”.

  7. I have no intention of stopping the Queen discussion (that show can go on – heh), but I hardly think they originated the phrase…and while a brief search indicates it is in dispute, I have to wonder if P.T. Barnum had something to do with it. Quite the capitalist, quite the showman – much, MUCH more ironic that Chavez would be channeling him than Freddie Mercury!

    On a sort-of-related note (certainly ties into the show part), has anyone read the following? . Rather scathing, and while I have some questions about the author, given his extremely liberal use of unsourced quotes, has anyone actually looked at the Chavez platform? Quico, I think it’s calling your name…

  8. This is the Bolivarian attempt at imitating the Vebonos (nicknamed “Webonos”, repeat aloud to get full effect, only in Spanish) most employees agreed to receive to finally see some of the money owed to them. Except the Petrorinoco is really insubstantial.

    Why Schrödinger? Schrödinger knew precisely what he was talking about. A different reality than usual and different objects, nevertheless very real. His theory is as sound as they come. To keep the umlaut in names, you should call it the Münchausen bond. “Puro cuento” from a compulsive liar who claims to be a superman.

    On the other hand, does every batch of Petrorinocos come with it’s own flask of extra heavy crude from the Faja? You know, to repeat the Presidential stunt. Maybe they need to be fueled before they begin producing interest…


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